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President of Louisiana Oil and Gas Association not in court

A judge in Baton Rouge's 19th Judicial District Court was not pleased when Don Briggs, the president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, did not appear in court this past Monday. In fact, the judge made it clear that a subpoena was a court order and not just an invitation.

Briggs was due to testify in a lawsuit brought by LOGA against Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. LOGA believes that Caldwell did not have the authority to authorize outside counsel to represent the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. The SLFPA-E filed a lawsuit last year against 97 oil and gas companies for the injury and damage to the Louisiana coastal areas. That damage was due to the building of pipelines and canals, as well as the companies' dredging activities.

The lawsuit didn't make much progress, though, as only one witness testified. The lawyers did make their opening statements, but then both sides argued over the fact that Briggs was not present. The LOGA attorneys argued that Briggs' blood pressure was too high for him to take the stress of appearing in court. Several months ago, Briggs also had heart surgery.

Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration have tried to derail the SLFPA-E's lawsuit. Gov. Jindal has promised to seek legislation that would stop the lawsuit. LOGA believes that Caldwell's office should be the council for the SLFPA's lawsuit. The SLFPA-E says that it is not a political entity and is separate from the governor's administration.

As the lawsuits continue, it will likely be the judicial system that ultimately decides if the SLFPA-E's lawsuit will continue.

It often takes litigation to settle environmental lawsuits. The advice and guidance of an experienced environmental attorney can prove invaluable in such cases.

Source: The New Orleans Advocate, "Oil and gas challenge to levee lawsuit heard in court" Jeff Adelson, Feb. 24, 2014

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